Thursday, August 15, 2013

Romelu Lukaku - 8.0m

So here's my excuse: the players listed in each team section within the team reviews are those with stats from last season. The players listed in the transfer section are all the new signings (per Transfermarkt). Romelu Lukaku doesn't fit into either category (his data all relates to West Brom, of course) and thus I somehow excluded one of the most exciting prospects in the league from my eBook (I think I got everyone else though so check out the rest of the book if you want to see what I'm talking about).

If I'd had a bit more sleep, and a few less wedding tasks to complete, here's what I would have written:

Lukaku enjoyed a tremendous first real season in the Premier League, notching 17 goals and seven assists, supported by excellent underlying data including 97 total shots with an impressive 45 on target. These totals ranked 8th and 4th among all forwards respectively: excellent numbers for a player in a mid level team with a mid level price tag. What's even more incredible though is if we gross up the Belgian's numbers to put him on a level playing field with his pricier rivals. For example, if Lukaku played at this rate for the same minutes as van Persie, he'd have racked up 151 total shots with 70 of those coming inside the box, which would actually exceed the Dutchman's haul of 141 and 63. Now, it might not be fair to set that as our expectation, but to even be mentioned in the same postal code as a 14.0m forward is noteworthy.

Now, the issue coming into the new season is playing time and where as at West Brom he was able to solidify his place as an every week starter by mid-season, at Chelsea this sporadic playing time may continue all year. Back in September when we highlighted Lukaku as a 'Moneyball' player over at Fantasy Football Scout, it was fairly evident that if he continued to play as he was, he would displace the likes of Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie, but with Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and even Andre Schurrle providing stronger competition at Stamford Bridge, it's far from clear how Lukaku will feature this year.

We all want to get in on players with upside as early as possible, and if this were a typical baseball-style draft competition then Lukaku would absolutely be a player to target and perhaps even reach for. However, as appealing as the double gameweek is, it's far from clear that he'll start both games, and if you were assigning probabilities, you'd probably suggest the odds are against him doing so. This status could quickly change with indications that Lukaku will lead the line more often than not, but until then, the prudent move is to grab someone like Paul Lambert or Dimitar Berbatov and then react to Lukaku's situation after Chelsea have been to Old Trafford and had their off week in GW3.

Editors's note: Apparently by addressing a careless mistake I've decided to add another. Despite his 14 goals for St Mirren between 1986 and 1993 (thanks Wikipedia!), Paul Lambert is absolutely not a great pickup for 7.5m. Rickie Lambert however does appear to tick all the boxes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

eBook Sample

A couple of readers on Twitter and here on the blog rightly suggested that a bit of a preview of the eBook might be useful for people to see if it's something they'd be interested in. With that in mind, here are a couple of screenshots of the kind of analysis you'll find in the eBook:


100 player profiles including expected goals, assists and points total from prior year (based on underlying data and regression). Includes a 'buy', 'consider', 'monitor' and 'avoid' status (Coutinho here is shown as a player to consider but one who carries at least one question mark:


SImple data tells us how many games everyone played, but why did they miss the other games? The below chart provided for each defense shows which players were rotated by choice and which played whenever they were healthy:


Forecast starting lineups for all 20 teams:


Distribution of expected goals and assists by team:


I hope these screenshots whet the collective appetite a bit, and if so, head over to Lulu and grab the whole book before Saturday's GW1 deadline!

Welcome back and exciting news

Welcome back everyone! Well, actually you've probably all been around a lot more than I have, so I guess it's me who's back.

It's been a busy time for me personally (I got married on August 2nd!) and for the blog, as I've finally finished my proposed e-book season preview. It's something I've wanted to do for a couple of seasons but have finally managed to complete the project this year and, honestly, I'm delighted with how it turned out.

It's 64 pages of content (all penned by yours truly) featuring:
  • 100 individual player profiles and fantasy status (buy, sell, monitor etc)
  • 17 full team previews including assessment of 2012-13 data, transfer analysis and forecast lineups
  • Goalkeeper rotation data
  • Forecast data for the first eight gameweeks of the season
  • Brief analysis of every transfer, including fantasy status
  • A review of the model in 2012-13 and how it will be improved this season.
Now here's the awkward bit: there is a price tag. Aside from a couple of dollars in Google ads over the years, I've never made anything from this blog, and while it is a labour of love, it would be nice if I could at least get back the money I expect to spend when I move the site to a fixed site address, sometime later in the season. The book is published through LuLu and is available for CAD$5.99 (or your local equivalent). I figure this is less than what you'd pay for a high street magazine which may feature a couple of pages of fantasy "analysis" and then a handful of perfume ads so it seems like a fair price for everyone.

The book has been an incredible amount of work (including having my new wife help edit it between our wedding and our honeymoon - which starts on Friday) but it's been a lot of fun to make and I'm really proud of how it has turned out.

For those who are interested, the book is available at Lulu.

As for the coming season, normal, and full service service will resume in a couple of weeks after I return from our honeymoon (we're heading to S.Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia in case anyone was wondering). We're due back on Sep 9th so I expect to have everything up and running for GW4. Until then, eight week forecast data and GK-rotation data can be found in the book.

As always, thanks for reading and sticking with the blog and here's to another great season.

PS. Now that the book is finished I'll be back on here and Twitter until Friday posting some general thoughts and hopefully my opening day lineup if I can make my mind up in time!